Wedding Traditions Are An Endless Buffet, Not Just Two Choices

One of the privileges I have in working with couples of all genders and all backgrounds is that of getting to encourage my marriers to embrace traditions that resonate with them, and let go of other traditions that don’t fit them. Some of these traditions can be particularly gendered, and that doesn’t always make weddings feel accessible for some folks. Fortunately, there are many options for today’s couples to make their celebration feel personal and appropriate for them.

An example is in choosing attendants. In a traditional western wedding, a bride would choose a maid or matron of honor, and additional bridesmaids to stand on her side during the ceremony, while a groom would choose a best man and groomsmen to stand on his. For couples that love that idea, that’s wonderful. But what if that doesn’t feel like you? What if you’re a same-sex couple? What if that’s not what your family’s culture usually does? What if one of you has five sisters and the other one has one brother? What if you just don’t feel like having attendants at all? Great news: all of this is answerable, and we get to talk about what feels right for your wedding. How about some of the following? Attendants! Best People! Groomswomen! Bridesmen! Walk or strut or dance down the aisle by yourself, or with your children, or with your parents, or with your chosen family, or with the person you are about to marry. All of these are great options.

As one great example of choosing traditions particular to you, the couple pictured here based their selection of attendants on how they interact with their group of closest friends. They each included a sibling as part of the wedding ceremony, and instead of having a line of attendants for each member of the couple, they had their group of 24 friends, also known as THE HYPE SQUAD, serve as a group of attendants for both members of the couple. These amazing friends did the work usually covered by attendants; hosting parties, showing up for rehearsals, and supporting both members of the couple leading up to the wedding, and even performed a choreographed group dance on the wedding day.

This fabulous couple also chose traditions from each of their family backgrounds that resonated with them, and we worked together to incorporate them seamlessly into their wedding day. We started the celebration with a Baraat, complete with an excellent dhol player. While the Baraat is traditionally a processional for the groom and his family, in this case, the couple wanted the parade to include both the bride and groom and their families, so they danced out together, and invited all their guests to join in the dancing processional, which ended in the Chabot Space & Science Center Planetarium, where they held the wedding ceremony.

Other traditional wedding aspects didn’t fit this couple’s vision, so we changed them. They were not really excited about cake, but the groom had great memories of going to Fenton’s Ice Cream parlor in his childhood, so we had Fenton’s bring in an ice cream sundae bar, complete with vegan options and a vast array of toppings for dessert. Neither the bride or the groom were particularly interested in flowers, so instead we decorated the long tables, named for planets and constellations, with Erlenmeyer flasks and brass dodecahedra holding candles. During the planning process, we spent time early on identifying which elements were important to them to include, and which to modify or add to make sure their wedding was truly a celebration of who and what they love. For me, this is one of the best aspects of being a wedding planner: getting to know the couple and really delving into who they are, what they love, and how they want to celebrate, and then putting all that together to create the best possible manifestation of their own unique wedding.

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